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What if the Montana Class Battleship class had been built?

Discussion in 'What If - Other' started by Bulldog1653, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Speaking of the part on fuel consumption, CombinedFleet.com made a thought-provoking article about the IJNs overral monthly oil use, which may have influenced their hesitation to send down their BBs to flatten Henderson Field until later in the Guadalcanal campaign:

    http://www.combinedfleet.com/guadoil1.htm
     
  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Neptune's Inferno also mentioned it as being one of the reasons the standards spent as much time on the West Coast as they did and were't employed in the Solomons.
     
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  3. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Did they also lack up-to-date radar gunfire control as well? I could see that being another reason, as it might have rendered them less effective in night combat.
     
  4. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    My view on this: While the Montanas may not have made a big impact on the war, assuming that say, at least 2 were built in time to serve in the war, I could still see them being useful carrier escorts; they were just as fast as the South Dakotas and North Carolinas, which were able to accompany the Fast CVs despite being 5-6 knots slower, and they would have had a heavy AA armament in the form of Oerlikon 20mms and Bofors 40mm, not to mention they would've wielded the Mk. 16 5''/54 guns, which had a longer barrel and fired a heavier shell than the Mk. 12 5"/38, giving these guns greater range and hitting power. Plus, being that these are one of my favorite class of Battlewagons(Despite being scrapped before their keels were even laid), I like the thought of at least 2 of them actually being completed and seeing service, these ships would have been magnificent titans. :)
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    They were due for refits as you suggest but I think they pushed the timing up on some of them figuring they might as well since they would have a hard time supporting them on the front. Of course several were in for damage repair anyway. I'm not an expert but I suspect PH could have performed some of the repairs and refitts they went through but why drain resources from the front when plenty existed back on the West Coast.
     
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  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    The WWI-era battleships had been modernized in the late 1920s-early 30s, by class, in the order in which they were built. This included increased deck armor (although the standard type were already better than most in this area), new gunfire controls, and bulging, both to improve underwater protection and to maintain armored freeboard as weight increased. However the depression curtailed the program before the "Big Five" could be done, creating the curious situation that our youngest battleships were the least modern.

    By 1940-41 the Navy had funding for modernization, but they were also reluctant to have the ships out of service for an extended period, so they designed an austere program for them. Bulging to 106', just able to fit through the Panama Canal locks, was considered essential, but unlike earlier mods they would retain their cage masts and original gunnery controls. This was done on Maryland and Colorado in 1941; the latter was in the Puget Sound Navy Yard at the time of Pearl Harbor.

    Pearl Harbor of course meant that California and West Virginia were going to need extensive repairs, and it was decided to include a major reconstruction, starting with bulging to 114', making them our first warships that could not transit the Canal. This included complete new superstructure, secondary armament, and gunnery controls and made them comparable to modern BBs in most respects other than speed. This was also done to Tennessee, the other unmodernized ship, which had suffered only minor damage on Dec 7, so she was the first back into action in her new configuration.

    Drifting back towards topic, Maryland and Colorado were deployed to the South Pacific in late 1942 but did not get involved in the Solomons fighting. They had most of their cage mainmasts removed to free up space and clear arcs for AA guns.

    At Surigao Strait, most of the shooting was done by California, Tennesse, and West Virginia, thanks to the their Mark 34 directors and Mark 8 radar; Maryland was barely able to participate alongside her sisters. Subsequently she, Colorado, and Pennsylvania were given a Mark 34 on a short tower aft while retaining their existing foremasts and the older directors thereon - not an ideal layout, but a wartime exigency. Most of the Mark 34s incidentally were freed up by the conversion of Cleveland class cruisers under construction to CVLs.
     
  7. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Could Maryland and Colorado have been of any use in the fighting off Guadalcanal?
     
  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Member

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    I think they would be. They were the most powerful battleships in the world when they were launched. I don't know what their AA abilty was like early in the war but I would thnk they would match up OK with any ship the IJN had except of course Yamato/Musashi. Definately keep the cruisers away.
     
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    Their AA armament in 1942 was comparable to the CAs and Brooklyn class CLs then operating: eight 5"/25s, four quad 1.1s, installed during their recent refits, and a growing number of .50-calibers and 20mms, some of which were mounted on platforms on the remnant of the cage mainmast.

    As you say, their combat power was superior to anything the Japanese used in the Solomons, most notably the Kongo class ships. But there are also the intangibles - tactics, doctrine, sensors, command and control - in which they'd be in the same boat as our cruiser-destroyer forces. Battleships would be no less likely to be surprised at something like Savo Island, although they would be better able to survive the initial hits and hit back. Realistically though, we probably wouldn't employ them unless there was a need to engage enemy BBs, as when Washington and South Dakota were committed to surface action. In 1942 our Pacific Fleet still had fewer battleships than the IJN, so we'd be reluctant to risk getting ours beaten up without a chance of inflicting damage on their counterparts.
     
  10. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    True, as was shown in battles such as Tassafaronga, better tactics is more important than wielding more powerful ships, and just as you pointed out, we would've only sent the BBs in when the Japanese brought their own battlewagons into the fray, and tbh, Washington and South Dakota were more than adequate enough when they were committed to surface fighting on Nov. 14th-15th.
     
  11. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Well, at least the Washington was. Even though many experts consider the North Carolina's marginally better than the South Dakota's, the biggest difference in the fight was Washington's commander, Admiral Willis Augustus "Ching" Lee.
     
  12. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    What's wrong with the South Dakota-class, they wielded the same powerful armament as the North Carolinas and were well protected, and I guess according to authors William Garzke and Robert Dulin, they may have been the best "Treaty battleships' ever built, plus, while I know that this doesn't make the vehicle, person, technology etc. in question great, I've always had a soft spot for the South Dakotas :p. What hampered South Dakota during the Night battle on Nov. 14-15 was that she kept on losing power to her radar and main guns due to her chief electricians mate tampering with the circuit breakers, if that had not happened, I have no doubt she would have done better in that battle.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    SoDak's crew just didn't seem to operate on the same level as Washington's during that battle. It wasn't just the circuit breaker event. Or blowing their own search plane off the ship after setting it on fire. My impression is it was mostly the captain's fault but that's only an impression.
     
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  14. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    The SoDak's weren't bad ships, they were among the best of the treaty battleships, that being said, they were not as good as the North Carolina's in several areas.
    1.) They were more cramped and less habitable than the North Carolina's, a situation made worse as electronics suites and light anti-aircraft armament (and associated personnel) increased during the war.
    2.) They were wetter ships with poorer seakeeping characteristics than the North Carolina's.
    3.) Their anti-torpedo protection was inferior to the North Carolina's. The Montana class actually reverted to the North Carolina's anti-torpedo protection scheme
    4.) The SoDak's had significant blast interference between the closely packed secondary/AA batteries.
    5.) Because they were more habitable and had greater size, the North Carolina's were retained as active ships longer than the South Dakota's and a various schemes to give them more speed in order to retain them were examined.



    [​IMG]
    North Carolina class BB-Washington and North Carolina

    [​IMG]

    South Dakota class BB-South Dakota, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Alabama.
     
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  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Point #5 is also debatable.

    Of the Treaty battleships, the USS Indiana was decommissioned last, September 11, 1947. The catch being that she was In Commission In Reserve since September 11, 1946. Also, the South Dakota class was also looked at with various schemes to increase their speed. Everything that prevented the modification of the North Carolinas held true for the South Dakotas - Very costly(30-40 million for the modifications alone), no space for the propulsion plant needed, modification of aft hull to take larger propellers - Again about the only point slightly in favor of the North Carolinas was that they would require slightly less shaft horsepower to reach the minimum 31 knots.(likely due to the longer hull form).
     
  16. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

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    They key feature of the South Dakota design was the increased armor protection, which created the need to keep the armored citadel, and the hull overall, as compact as possible. This was in keeping with the rule of thumb that a ship should be protected against guns comparable to her own. In design studies and war games it was considered that a ship which could penetrate the other's belt armor at slightly greater range would have a significant advantage. This did not prove to be the case in WWII, though granted there were few opportunities for it to be tested.

    I may be abusing my hindsight privileges, but it does not appear that the compromises to protect the South Dakota against the heavy 16" shell were justified; overall I prefer the North Carolina.
     
  17. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    From what I have read, everything you have stated above is true. I agree.
     
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Again, I am in full agreement.
     
  19. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Alright, those are some reasonable points against the SDs, still, they are one of my favorite class of BBs. Btw, just going a little bit off subject, I actually got to visit the USS North Carolina with my parents and my sister back in 08' on the drive home from Myrtle beach, and it was an enjoyable tour, having the opportunity to visit a floating piece of history like that, definitely something to remember for the rest of my life. :)
     
  20. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    Though constantly losing power to your guns and radar sure didn't help.
     

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